Podcast Transcript


00:00:01.399 – 00:00:05.079

 Welcome to taking a walk Here’s Buzz Knight


Buzz Knight:

00:00:05.71 – 00:00:10.38

 Well Emily Cavanagh it’s so nice to be taking a walk with you in New York City



00:00:10.439 – 00:00:13.039

 and with you thank you so much for having me on



00:00:13.46 – 00:00:24.399

 You have an amazing story First let’s talk about your singer songwriter career When did you know you were first hooked on music



00:00:25.54 – 00:00:33.099

 Well you know my grandma was a singer so I grew up on the south side of Chicago 57 1st cousins

 very close knit community You know growing up it was kind of everything was about community and togetherness So any chance for a family party we took one any chance for you know a sing song we had one very big very Irish very Irish American just all together all the time And I think I learned from an early age that if you could tell a story or make someone laugh life was good



 and who were the musicians that influenced you at an early age



 So mom listened a lot to CSNY

ea lot of Joni Mitchell a lot of Joan Baez Carol King My dad was more of the John Denver Nat King Cole Louis Armstrong variety And those were the records that really played in our house


Buzz Knight:

and in Chicago really known for lots of different music and styles So did you get out and see shows there



 I did I did my first show I was 17 was it was actually Bob Dylan

and I think that that that has stayed with me all these years later Like he’s still probably I would credit as one of my biggest influences


Buzz Knight:

What was the venue



 Do you know what I want to say Ravinia

Does that feel right I’m not sure I don’t know In Chicago it might have


even been Northwestern put on some big event but I was just touched that my parents let me out for the night And I’m proud that the first the first show I ever saw live with Dylan


Buzz Knight:

00:02:29.5 – 00:02:33.289

Have you checked out the philosophy of modern songs the Bob Dylan



 book No And everyone always asks me that


Buzz Knight:

00:02:36.419 – 00:02:39.97

You have to you totally have to It’s


you may not recognize a lot of a lot of the music but you will definitely recognize his voice as he analyzes these songs and you’ll recognize some of them too



 We’re in the studio right now actually recording a version of the girl from the north country

which is one of my favorites of all of his songs Oh my God


Buzz Knight:

00:03:05.929 – 00:03:17.6

 Do you recall when he jumped out on stage If it was one of his better nights of performance Because he’s known for he could be up and down and he could get away with it because he’s Bob



 You know I think when you love an artist so much there’s almost like blinders on like I love him in an unconditional way of to me it’s always Dylan And so it’s always good and there’s always something to take away from it



00:03:30.72 – 00:03:37.619

 So I do remember a little bit of a magic to seeing him that young I


Buzz Knight:

00:03:37.63 – 00:03:43.47

 have to share it I just recently discovered this amazing

performance with Dylan and Susan Tedeschi that if you could if you could find this it’s Susan at a very young age and Bob clearly blown away by her brilliance It’s like magical I would love you to check that out So what are the shows do you remember seeing in Chicago that really made an impact



 as a little girl I listened a lot to folk music I also was really taken by jazz Um My grandma was a jazz singer and so all the songs in the thirties forties


when I was little we would hear Judy Garland I have a memory of it’s almost a little embarrassing

my grandma sounded so much like her but I remember hearing an old recording of Judy and thinking it was my grandma There was just such a similarity in the sound you know so

that played into my earliest influences I loved Joni Mitchell I loved Joan Baez I loved Jefferson Airplane I loved a lot of music that came long before I was even born Did you I think more modern influences Like I was really into SoundGarden I loved Eddie Vedder I loved all of the you know the folk scene the rock scene Um not much of that turns up in my music but it’s a lot of what I listen to



 Has anybody told you that you have a little resemblance to Joni Mitchell



00:05:16.109 – 00:05:19.57

I feel like that’s too large a compliment but you’re awfully kind


I’m a huge fan I’m a huge fan


Buzz Knight:

00:05:25.91 – 00:05:32.19

 fan And how magical is it that she’s you know out and about more



 Yes And that so many young artists are bringing such attention to her You know like Brandi Carlile has done not wonders for Joni’s career Joni’s career is already so big but I think really putting a spotlight back on how brilliant she was and what she’s done for so many people who came after her I


Buzz Knight:

00:05:51.69 – 00:05:55.25

 So how did you end up in New York City



 Cue the siren I since I was a little girl wanted to move to New York And it’s funny because

I knew I wanted to sing and I knew I wanted to do something to kind of be in the world helping you know I I never felt responsible enough to be a teacher I never really saw myself as someone who could plan a lesson or you know do something like that But I I felt very comfortable at what has become the intersection of music and service Right So I loved singing for kids who are coming out of homelessness Like I loved working with people who were

 in certain situations in their lives where maybe

you know they were down on their luck but like through writing a song they could talk about it in ways that I think sometimes other forms of say therapy or you know are useful but not perhaps as free And so as you know sort of a free spirit myself I just felt like that was the way that I could bring those two together


So as a very little girl I wanted to come here and sing and I I’m so lucky that it’s all these years later It’s 18 years later And that’s what I’m doing


Buzz Knight:

00:07:10.929 – 00:07:24.25

 But then you stumbled into something pretty amazing called a song for you I wouldn’t say stumble but that it was a bit of serendipitous to it So


talk to the audience about how that happened



00:07:28.14 – 00:07:32.1

 Yes That was entirely unplanned I mean


had there not been a pandemic I don’t know that I would have thought to start something like this right Like in the middle of this global epidemic I’m sitting watching Netflix eating all my feelings You’re in Chicago binging shits creek



 Oh you’re here Well



 I was here in New York but right

Right When everything hit I did go home to be with my family for three months And so that was one of the very few silver linings because I got to be there you know with my dad on his 70th birthday and go for walks with my mom and be with my brothers and sister And you know and I just I remember sitting watching like all of us the stories every day of what was happening in the world and thinking is there any way I can help You know

and honestly the answer as a singer songwriter in a global pandemic is probably going to almost always be no you know my skill set is fairly limited but

I knew I could write a song and I knew that in the communities that I travel in So can most of the other people that I’m friends with You know and so I just started thinking well what if there was a way that we could start telling the stories of the people who are in these rooms where their families can’t reach them And so even if it was just to send a song to offer a little comfort or bring a little peace to people

on behalf of their families That was where the idea was born from You know I think for everyone there’s something that stood out in the pandemic that they just couldn’t wrap their head around be it loss or the sense of time or this feeling stuck inside or whatever it was for each person you know but for me it was just this idea that people were

you know

essentially dying in rooms where no one could be with them and hold their hand

And so I did this really low fi low budge honestly low quality recording of I want to hold your hand and I started just cold calling hospitals and hospices and saying you know do you have a patient that might need a song And initially the answer was you know we’re up to our eyeballs like we’re very limited bandwidth There’s not much that we can do even if we love this idea But in

you know 3 to 6 months time I started getting calls back social workers volunteer coordinators chaplains we have a nurse that would love a song She’s in isolation We have a family member that just can’t reach their person that they want to send them something to say I love you Can you write it You know can you send it And so what began is let’s just send a few songs turned into let’s write and record personalized songs based on the stories of the patients in the rooms


Buzz Knight:

00:10:17.27 – 00:10:19.409

 And this was all over the country or



 Well initially honestly it was just it was really Chicago and New York Then it was California that you know that called back And then it grew from you know we wrote we probably wrote maybe five songs in the beginning to

 over 200 in the course of 18 months time Even writing for staff are small staff as small as 50 health care workers to 300 health care workers to 15,000 health care workers in a system in Idaho at Christmas


Buzz Knight:

00:10:55.94 – 00:11:00.0

 Were you ever at a point You were you discouraged that you weren’t hearing back from people



 No I never felt discouraged because I recognized the moment you know I mean the world was shut down right Like this this wasn’t something that I was hoping

that I ever even thought would have the spotlight on it that has come to be It was really just something to do in a time when as an artist you know venues were dark work was


it was it was almost more of a surprise to be honest when people reached back out and said we could use this

It surprises me to this day that it’s grown into what it has


Buzz Knight:

00:11:51.0 – 00:11:55.0

 So how did the charity then become a full 501



 So we’re still pending the 501 We’re still we’re still a little ways away from that But the kindness of the community you know the kindness of the press the kindness of

the health care workers the kindness of the people that were sharing their stories with us and then sharing our story on behalf of what we were doing You know so the writers of People magazine and up worthy and medium and ABC and it was just really such a generous response that

kind of serendipitous serendipitously



 a man that I had met in a coffee shop years before who I had struck up a conversation and then what turned into a friendship with he and his wife were this amazing couple and he was this great businessman She was this wonderful ballerina She was always encouraging him to do a bit of philanthropy

We became friendly the three of us she encouraged me to keep at the service side of my work and my life But to really cultivate that through the arts



 she ended up passing away



00:13:00.469 – 00:13:14.96

 not long after this had started and her husband reached out to me and said you know I love this work that you’re doing I want to be a part of it Charlene his late wife would have loved to be a part of it too And the irony Charlene




 when she passed she ended up passing in a hospice that we were already writing for here in New York City And so it was really just a full circle moment And he said you know I I believe in this and I want to help you and that seed money that he donated got us started as a nonprofit



00:13:35.83 – 00:13:49.57

 And so we went from this tiny little initiative to still a very tiny but organization here in New York that now writes for patients and families in hospice and hospital across the country


Buzz Knight:

00:13:50.309 – 00:13:58.21

 But you’re also uh it’s just you and then other people who volunteer to write and record the music



 Yeah The kindness of all of the volunteer artists the local to Grammy nominee to Grammy Award winning songwriters who have all shared a song of theirs either on behalf of our initiative or on behalf of the family that really needed a song Talk about some


Buzz Knight:

00:14:17.289 – 00:14:18.409

 of those folks




Oh my goodness I mean I don’t even know where to start there so I could talk about what I would call my first co writer And so my first co writer is a 16 year old girl in Arizona who sent me a song request on behalf of her dad who ended up passing away shortly after he received his song But she basically shared you know she wasn’t very close to him growing up She didn’t know much about him She was a little angry with him because he had left her and her mom

and it really wasn’t until she discovered how much she loved music that she reconnected with her dad because it was the one thing they could bond over And so you know I sent on the intake to our social worker out west Um shout out to Lisa because she’s a star And Lisa passed on the this you know questionnaire to this wonderful girl



 and she just wrote pages You know some people will write back I want a song for my mom She loves country music and that’s ok That’s all that they want to share But this girl just wrote a novel and essentially the sentiment she wanted conveyed was no matter what has happened no matter what our relationship like after you’re gone I’ll go on singing your name

 and that ended up being the title of the song And I feel like it almost speaks the best to our mission because it’s this idea that even after someone has left their legacy can still live on through a song



 So I mean from someone you know like Kayla to um you know friends of mine over in Ireland who have won all sorts of awards and were kind enough to send songs to family and friends back in Chicago to local musicians here in New York to Grammy Award winner Jesse Harris

wrote all of the songs that won Norah Jones her Grammys Sasha Allen who you know sings backing vocals for the rolling stones and took time out of her out of her life to send a song You know Sophie B Hawkins who wrote my favorite song when I was 16 as I lay me down to sleep sent a song to a patient out West with a personalized shout out

 to say you know this song is for you Yes So the response from I mean everyone has said yes that’s what’s blown my mind like in such a dark time in the world that there was the lightness of these amazing people who just said Sure I’ll send a song I’ll write a song I’ll share this mission with my community

That is what always keeps me going


Buzz Knight:

00:16:52.83 – 00:16:57.789

 So as somebody who observes this process


Buzz Knight:

00:16:58.39 – 00:17:13.42

 and understands music what’s the impact of music to these family members to these individuals Um Talk about the healing force of music




 I can speak to it personally and then I can speak to it you know on the collective I think in a time like the one that we were living in everyone just needed to feel some sort of connection And I personally don’t know of a better connector than music I think it’s universal I think it goes beyond borders I think it goes beyond race it goes beyond age it goes beyond you know it connected Kayla to her dad who for a very long time she had no relationship with Right So

on the personal knowing how much of an impact it’s had on my life and how much besides my family and my friends it has been a constant source of joy

I think it’s really incredible that for so many other people in such a dark time that was the thing they were turning to right Like people went on live streams record sales went up in terms of people bought old record players and they were listening to the songs of their childhood It was like having a friend in a room with you when you couldn’t be in a room with your friend or it was like having a meal that you love you know listening to these old songs from when you were growing up So I guess in a way I’ve always found that music

is sort of that bridge between people who might not otherwise have a connection And then if you already have that connection but you just can’t be in the rooms with the people you love Like it’s all the more powerful So I think that’s what we found Like even now people will say to me will you ever do like a live performance or do you go into the hospitals or I don’t understand the process Are you like musicians on call or music therapists And you know all of those places I so admire and revere But

why we’re a little bit unique and we’re not doing anything that no one’s done before But where we are unique is that this was born in a time when no one could be in the room with each other which for me has always been what music is So this was a way to sort of almost recreate the sense of being with the people you love when you couldn’t be So now that we have the opportunity

to be live again or go into a room I almost I almost don’t want us to because it was born in this time that I want to still honor And I love this idea that you can have a recording you can have an MP three it’s tangible you can hold on to it So families will reach out to me now and say you know I still listen to that song like it still plays in my playlist Like we wrote a song for a woman who

wanted to marry the Love of her life on Valentine’s Day and she knew she didn’t have much time left And so he wrote out a whole intake and explained all the reasons he loved her and all the things that were amazing about her And they ended up getting married in California under this large tree with friends of theirs around And they danced to the song that we wrote


for her as their first dance you know and so he still gets to play that song even though even though she’s no longer with us


Buzz Knight:

00:20:17.819 – 00:20:27.839

 So when you first you know became attracted to music could you have ever imagined that you got so close to it as like a healing force



No never in a million years I was living for a long time at the intersection of working in both service and music And so I just feel so lucky that in this intersection this is sort of everything that I’ve been doing for a long time but it feels much more intentional


Buzz Knight:

00:20:45.369 – 00:20:51.03

 So if musicians listening to this want to help how do they participate



 for you Well we would love that I mean in this moment I’ll be honest and I think our demand for songs has grown past our resources So you know when you’re doing something for free for a long time

you get to a moment where you have to make a decision and while we still want to maintain our mission of providing free services to families for as long as we can we also want to be able to pay our artists and our musicians and our studios and you know be an artist based organization that also does



 good by the artist right So I always put out there like we’re still doing these songs primarily for free So if there are artists that are in a position where they can donate a song we would be so grateful And if there are artists that just want to spread it to their community or share it with their people



 to get even more eyes and ears on it that would be amazing We’re also looking for people in development people in fundraising people who have that part of the brain that you can imagine as an artist isn’t my strong suit right So I can write the songs and I love sitting with people and I love that element of connecting with folks and connecting folks But in terms of how we’re going to fundraise how we’re going to make this a sustainable mission That’s where we can definitely

other people and of


Buzz Knight:

00:22:17.319 – 00:22:19.469

 all genres of music Absolutely



00:22:19.479 – 00:22:22.619

 anywhere globally globally


Buzz Knight:

00:22:22.63 – 00:22:24.43

 because we do have a global audience Well

hello taking a walk That’s right Take a walk to New York and write a song so


Buzz Knight:

00:22:30.489 – 00:22:32.15

 they can get a hold of you How

so they can reach me at


Emily Cavanaugh music at Gmail

00:22:38.119 – 00:22:51.819

 They can find me on all the socials again That’s just Emily Cavanaugh music on Instagram or Facebook Emily Cavanaugh on Spotify and our website I want to give a shout out to our great designers is here is a song for you dot org


Buzz Knight:

00:22:52.89 – 00:23:04.739

 and I personally will attest to Emily Cavanaugh music on Spotify with an amazing version in particular of Fly Me To The Moon Oh you’re so kind which is just




do you want to know something funny about that I used to sing in a little piano bar in Chicago when I was saving up to come to New York called Fly Me To The Moon

And it was one of my favorite memories of music Gregory ran the show He was a blast He was such a character We had so many fun nights there and all these years later I went back to check in and just to say hello and to see you know my people and fly me to the moon is now called Wrigley Bill Weiners


Buzz Knight:

00:23:34.67 – 00:23:37.079

 Jeez I like fly me to the moon better


Buzz Knight:

00:23:39.579 – 00:23:44.579

 Wow So where would we be without music



 Oh man I can’t imagine like I can’t imagine my life without it I mean it’s like

it sounds dramatic It’s like breathing but it is such a basic part of life like it is such a primal

every day

I mean even just in the sounds that we can hear in the back here background

 the city cars and the buses and some are less melodic than others But

 yeah I mean I can’t imagine a life without music I think it would be

it wouldn’t be half as joyful


Buzz Knight:

00:24:21.609 – 00:24:34.67

 doing amazing work It’s stunning what you’re doing and anybody who can reach out to you should donate also they can donate the green

right That would be incredible How do they do that That is a good question



 So now we are in the process of setting up If you go to our website there’s a place where you’re able to send on more about that


Buzz Knight:

00:24:46.26 – 00:24:50.13

 All right it’s so great to have you on taking a walk



 So nice to take a walk with you Thank you



00:24:56.28 – 00:25:04.699

 Taking a walk with Buzz Knight is available on Spotify Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts


About The Author

Buzz Knight

Buzz Knight is an established media executive with a long history of content creation and multi-platform distribution.

After a successful career as a Radio Executive, he formed Buzz Knight Media which focuses on strategic guidance and the development of new original content.